Saturday, August 13, 2022

The Posters That Sold WWI to America & A Huge Giveaway

By Kimberly Grist

President Woodrow Wilson won his re-election bid with the 1916 slogan, “He kept us out of war.” He believed that the war in Europe would be a quick one. Knowing that America is a melting pot, made up of people from all the nations involved, Wilson didn’t want to create conflict by taking sides which could create tension, thus tearing the country apart. The U.S. remained neutral but still participated in trade with the allied nations.

Germany realized the only way to win the war was to keep the United States from supplying Europe with food and ammunition. They knew that by sinking American ships, they would force the U.S into action. Their gamble was they would win the war before the U.S. could send troops to Europe.
Photograph of the Lusitania, from the Illustrated War News, May 12, 1915

In 1917, Germany resumed unrestricted warfare by sinking seven U.S. ships and tried to recruit Mexico to join against the United States by promising to help them recover former territories, making Wilson’s vow of neutrality impossible. On April 2, 1917, President Wilson addressed Congress appealing that the United States enter the war as “the world must be made safe for democracy.” Four days later, the United States declared war on Germany.

Convincing the American people of their need to support the war effort would not be an easy task. On April 14, 1917, President Wilson established an organization called the Committee on Public Information to promote the decision. Who could say no to the pointing finger of Uncle Sam?
The CPI communicated through magazines, newspapers, books, phonographs, movies, sheet music, and, my favorite, posters. The illustrators used advertising strategies and graphic design to engage and stir up emotions reminding citizens who and what our nation was trying to protect.

James Montgomery Flagg created this poster, which was featured on April 19, 1917, during “Wake Up, America” Day in New York City. The poster features a sleeping woman dressed in stars and stripes and symbolizing a sleeping America while threatening storm clouds gather in the background.

No Time to Waste

In 1917, the United States had a combined military force of approximately three hundred thousand, one of the smallest in the world. Enlistment posters called for patriotism and sacrifices. Over the next 19 months, the military will have grown to over four million and one of the largest in the world.

Sowing The Seeds of Victory

Citizens at home were called upon to tap into their patriotism to ensure food supply and distribution could continue during the war. Phrases like “The Spirit of Self-Sacrifice Will Win the War” were common. Conservation came to life as families conserved food by participating in “Meatless Mondays” and “Wheatless Wednesday” and grew their own vegetables in what were often called "Victory Gardens."

New Release

There is no ocean so great that love can’t cross.

I recently felt a nudge to do something completely different than I ever intended. Does that ever happen to you? Admittedly, most of the time, I choose to avoid anything that might take me outside my comfort zone. But this time, I accepted a new challenge, expanding my research and writing in a new century during WWI. My new release, Adella, is the result, and I’ve come away with a fresh perspective about the struggles our country went through during the first part of the 20th century. Surprisingly some conflicts and even pandemics with startling similarities to today.
About Kimberly Grist:
Fans of historical romance set in the late 19th -century will enjoy stories combining, History, Humor, and Romance, emphasizing Faith, Friends, and Good, Clean Fun.
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  1. Thanks for the post today, and for helping to make the blog so interesting! I hadn't seen some of those posters. It's interesting to me how they appeal to our patriotism instead of our personal views. Supporting our country and our troops and doing our part at home was a valued commodity.

  2. Thanks for leaving a comment Connie. While brushing up on my history, I was struck by the patriotism that our nation displayed. Something to be proud of!

  3. I didn't know Victory Gardens or Meatless Monday began in WWI - cool to know :) ! The posters are interesting too, and some would be seen differently today from how they were back then. I think the last 2 are fantastic.

    Thanks for sharing all this :) .